Spring snowstorm adds to flooding potential for the Midwest

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:52 PM GMT on March 24, 2011

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A major spring snowstorm dumped heavy snow in excess of six inches over a wide swath of the Upper Midwest this week, adding to a snowpack that is already near or in excess of record levels over Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. This is bad news for residents in flood-prone areas of the Upper Midwest, as the new storm added more than half an inch of melted rainfall equivalent to the record wet snowpack. When all that snow melts in April, we can expect major and possibly record flooding for North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and the Upper Mississippi River north of St. Louis, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Their March Spring Flood Outlook released last week warned: A large swath of the North Central United States is at risk of moderate to major flooding this spring. Heavy late summer and autumn precipitation have left soils saturated and streams running high before the winter freeze-up. National Weather Service models show this year's snowpack contains a water content ranked among the highest of the last 60 years, which is similar to the past two years. This threat area extends from northeastern Montana through Wisconsin and along the Mississippi River south to St. Louis. For the third consecutive year, forecasters predict major flooding along the Red River of the North, which forms the state line between eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota. Other areas of the Midwest primed for major flooding include Devils Lake in North Dakota, the Milk River in Northeastern Montana, the James and Big Sioux Rivers in South Dakota, the Minnesota River, and the Mississippi River from its headwaters near St. Paul, Minnesota, downstream to St. Louis.


Figure 1. U.S. spring 2011 flood risk. Image credit: NWS.


Figure 2. NOAA's latest significant river flood outlook shows that spring flooding is already occurring over South Dakota and on the Mississippi River near its junction with the Ohio River, but is not yet widespread across the Upper Midwest.

There is a huge amount of snow on the ground in North Dakota along the tributaries of the Red River, thanks to fall precipitation that was 150% - 300% of normal, and winter snows that have dumped up to 400% more precipitation than usual. If one were to melt this snow, it would amount to 4 - 6 inches of rain. If heavy rains occur at the same time that the snow melts, there is the potential for the greatest flood in history to affect the cities of Fargo and Grand Forks, the largest and third largest cities in North Dakota. NWS is giving a 35% chance that Fargo will see its greatest flood in history this spring, up from the 20% chance they gave in their February spring flood outlook.

The situation is similar in Minnesota, which has received about double its normal precipitation over the past 3 to 4 months, resulting in the 5th snowiest winter on record in Minneapolis. Snow depths are in excess of 20 inches over wide swaths of of the state, and this snow has a very high water content equivalent to 4 - 6 inches of rain. NWS is giving a 95% chance that the Mississippi River at St. Paul will exceed major flood stage this spring.

In South Dakota, heavy snows this winter have also left a snowpack with a high water content over the northeast corner of the state. The NWS is predicting a 25% chance that the the James River at Huron, SD will reach its highest flood height in history, and a 50% chance for the Big Sioux River at Brookings, SD.


Figure 3. The snow water equivalent of the Upper Midwest's snowpack as of March 24, 2011. Large sections of Minnesota and North Dakota have the equivalent of 3.9 - 5.9 inches of rain (purple colors) stored in their snowpack. Image credit: NWS/NOHRSC.

When will all this flooding occur?
The latest guidance from the GFS model predicts winter-like conditions will persist over the Upper Midwest for the next week, with no major storms for the region through early next week. Late next week, there is the potential for a snowstorm that could bring an additional 0.5 - 1" of melted equivalent snow, though this is very uncertain at this point. The first chance of a major thaw will not occur until Sunday, April 3. This will give some time for the current pulse of flood waters generated during last week's warm spell over South Dakota and southern Minnesota to move downstream, and makes the peak of this year's spring flood unlikely to occur until at least the second week of April. Looking back at past great floods in the Upper Midwest, the record 2009 Red River flood peaked on March 28 in Fargo. The great 1997 Red River flood that devastated Grand Forks, causing $3.5 billion in damage, crested on April 18. St. Paul's greatest flood in history crested on April 19, 1965. I expect this year's peak flood will most likely arrive during the 3rd week of April.

Mostly offshore winds expected over Japan for the next week
Radioactive plumes emitted from Japan's troubled Fukushima nuclear power plant will mostly head eastwards out to sea over the next week, thanks to high pressure that will dominate Japan's weather. Latest trajectory plots using NOAA's HYSPLIT model do not show air from the Fukushima plant heading towards Tokyo over the next four days.

Jeff Masters

Not liking Spring (all4paws)
10 inches of snow today. Not good if you're a robin.
Not liking Spring
Spring? (jf)
Spring?
Spring?

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196. BtnTx
I guess I am ignored. Good night to all!
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195. flsky
Quoting washingtonian115:
That I don't know.My
husband is the one who istalled everyting(He's a tech freak).

Does he do free consulting for extremely frustrated WU folks?
Member Since: October 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2045
Quoting TampaSpin:


I too have a Wind 7 but, have Norton anitv. you gotta set your setting to the lowest level. That helped me a ton as i have had no problems this evening.

and 50 comments per page helps
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
Quoting flsky:

I have the exact duplicate of what you have. Why me! Help!!


I too have a Wind 7 but, have Norton anitv. you gotta set your setting to the lowest level. That helped me a ton as i have had no problems this evening.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
Quoting flsky:

I have the exact duplicate of what you have. Why me! Help!!
That I don't know.My
husband is the one who istalled everyting(He's a tech freak).
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17477
191. flsky
Quoting Grothar:


I know. I have seen it. But just don't judge a whole group by just a few bad apples. There have always been extremists on both side througout world history. We must rise above it. Because someone is of a different political persuasion than mine, I don't immediately dislike them.

I agree, too, but I don't come on this expecting to debate political issues in the first place. I want to know about tropical weather!
Member Since: October 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2045
Duke got hammered.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
188. flsky
Quoting washingtonian115:
Well....my computer brand is a Acer.The security program that I have is Mcafee.And then on top of that I have the new windows 7 thingy-ma-bob.

I have the exact duplicate of what you have. Why me! Help!!
Member Since: October 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2045
Quoting TomTaylor:

You act surprised that you'd be attacked for posting things on the wrong side of the gw deal, but idk why.

The earth is obviously warming. Humans are proven to be at least partially responsible. Anyone who thinks or posts otherwise is begging to be ridiculed...


ROFLMAO,....I rest my case. Good nite all!..Geesh...LOL
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
Quoting Grothar:


I think it works both ways. There is equal mud slinging both ways. You seem to notice it more, because you are on one side or the other. I have seen people being called Communists, Socialists and worse because they defended a particular point of view. An interesting study was done at Duke University. There were equalled group participatns that were shown a short movie. Only 3 negative remarks were made about Conservatives and 8 negative remarks about Liberals. However 90% of the Conservatives polled said the entire movie was anti-Conservative. The interesting thing, was that when it was done in reserve, The Liberals also voted 90%. So it shows that you tend to notice remarks directed at your point of view and ignore the others.


great comment, you are spot on!
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Well.....there's our answer !! Problem solved :P

Need a thing-ma-bob...for sure....
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
Quoting TampaSpin:


For sure.....When i post things anymore of Politcal opinion or even on the wrong side of most on here with Global Warming the attacks start. One cant express just an opinion without being attacked! Then you get banned while others keep attacking.


I know. I have seen it. But just don't judge a whole group by just a few bad apples. There have always been extremists on both side througout world history. We must rise above it. Because someone is of a different political persuasion than mine, I don't immediately dislike them.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
182. BtnTx
Apparently Weather Underground doesn't want us to use Microsoft software. However many of us have no choice because of where we work. The old web site was great. I now must use the classic.wunderground.com. Maybe Dr. Masters wants us all to use Ubantu or whatever it is called
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Quoting flsky:

Ha - speak for yourself Gro. On the other hand, what's your secret W115? You really must know something we other "non-old" folks don't. Please don't tell me it's b/c you're using a MAC.
Well....my computer brand is a Acer.The security program that I have is Mcafee.And then on top of that I have the new windows 7 thingy-ma-bob.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17477
Quoting TampaSpin:



Yep if you don't have a DEMOCRATIC point of view you are then an outcast as most on here don't allow or don't like a Conservatives thinking.


That's probably because 99% of the people on here are weather fanatics. They love and live for weather.

And because of it, most of us care about the environment and nature. Which is more commonly a democratic trait than a republican. Not that there aren't any republicans who are interested or care for the environment.



So to me, it would make sense that the majority of the people on here are democrats.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Because we are old.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17477
Quoting Grothar:


I think it works both ways. There is equal mud slinging both ways. You seem to notice it more, because you are on one side or the other. I have seen people being called Communists, Socialists and worse because they defended a particular point of view. An interesting study was done at Duke University. There were equalled group participatns that were shown a short movie. Only 3 negative remarks were made about Conservatives and 8 negative remarks about Liberals. However 90% of the Conservatives polled said the entire movie was anti-Conservative. The interesting thing, was that when it was done in reserve, The Liberals also voted 90%. So it shows that you tend to notice remarks direct at your point of view any ignore the others.


For sure.....When i post things anymore of Politcal opinion or even on the wrong side of most on here with Global Warming the attacks start. One cant express just an opinion without being attacked! Then you get banned while others keep attacking.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
177. flsky
Quoting Grothar:


Because we are old.

Ha - speak for yourself Gro. On the other hand, what's your secret W115? You really must know something we other "non-old" folks don't. Please don't tell me it's b/c you're using a MAC.
Member Since: October 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2045
Quoting flsky:

I have to qualify this statement. I DO really enjoy the good-natured and intelligent, repartee that sometimes goes on here late in the evening. Some very interesting folks on here at times.


We feel the same about you fl. I don't think I have ever seen you not being polite and you have had some nice conversations with people on here. (except when you make fun of my age)LOL
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Quoting caneswatch:


SDS lost, I had them as champs. My bracket was already screwed LOL

Being a San Diegan myself, watching SDSU lose was really disappointing lol

Oh well
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KoritheMan:


Wait, was that classified information? My bad!
Ah yes! while your on I will tell you what I discoved.I noticed that where ever the first storm of the season makes landfall,down the road later in the season the same area almost gets hit.For exsample.Arlean(2005) made landfall on the the gulf coast.And what happened that season?.It's like Cindy,Dennis,katrina,and Wilma all followed in her foot steps.In 2008 the first storm to reach U.S shores was Dolly.And what happened then?.Later you had Edwuard,and Ike come to Texas.The same thing con be said about Cuba/Haiti that season.Once Gustav mad landfall 3 other storms came along.So this season let's watch where the first storm/hurricane makes landfall.It could give us a signal for what's really to come later on down the road......
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17477
Quoting RastaSteve:


Evening Jed, don't worry as we are heading into a very wet pattern starting Monday going thru maybe Mid April. A prolonged rain event appears to be on the way for FL with active daily afternoon thunderstorms with a potential significant severe wx event late next week if the GFS is to be believed (and Euro).

http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/ namer/gfs/18/fp0_192.shtml



Don't get your hopes up, long range computer model forecasts typically are good for looking at upcoming pattern changes, but they usually highly exaggerate the specifics. That being said, computer model guidance does agree on a pattern change that will favor more rain in Florida. However, keep in mind, we are heading into April, typically the driest month of the year. Now I do realize last April was a very wet month for much of us Central Floridians. But that is not very common. Even further, we had El Nino in place, which can be directly related to that unusually wet April.

Furthermore, this is a La Nina April we are entering which typically leads to exceptionally dry weather in Florida.

Now I'm not saying we are going to get no rain at all this up coming pattern. But you must try and forecast the closest to reality without a bias. That being said, because the models are agreeing on a pattern change favoring more rain in Florida. I don't believe it will be as great as some of the long range models are showing. I'm sure the chance exists that some periods of heavy rain in parts will be possible. But lets not get ahead of ourselves and say a very wet pattern is arriving with possibly strong to severe storms arriving. As much as I would be very excited to see that happen, I am a meteorology student, so I must seek accurate science, not a bias towards what I hope for.

Understand what I mean?
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172. flsky
Quoting flsky:

I guess it depends on your definition of "democratic." At any rate, the important thing here to me is tropical weather - all else is just chaff and is ignored.

I have to qualify this statement. I DO really enjoy the good-natured and intelligent, repartee that sometimes goes on here late in the evening. Some very interesting folks on here at times.
Member Since: October 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2045
Quoting washingtonian115:
I'm not having a single problem with the new format.How come everyone else is?...


Because we are old.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting RastaSteve:


AMEN!! While they do no wrong according to admin others get banned for harmeless crap. It's amazing the treatment some get on here. Good night TampaSpin! I've seen people put down to nothing on here and nothing happens to those people. One day this blog will be no more becuase admin can't get their act together or maybe admin is some of these knuckle heads that post on here. Oh well if i get banned so be it I will be back soon.


Good nite....


Quoting washingtonian115:
I'm not having a single problem with the new format.How come everyone else is?...


I was having some problems, but not currently.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
Quoting TampaSpin:



Yep if you don't have a DEMOCRATIC point of view you are then an outcast as most on here don't allow or don't like a Conservatives thinking.


I think it works both ways. There is equal mud slinging both ways. You seem to notice it more, because you are on one side or the other. I have seen people being called Communists, Socialists and worse because they defended a particular point of view. An interesting study was done at Duke University. There were equalled group participatns that were shown a short movie. Only 3 negative remarks were made about Conservatives and 8 negative remarks about Liberals. However 90% of the Conservatives polled said the entire movie was anti-Conservative. The interesting thing, was that when it was done in reserve, The Liberals also voted 90%. So it shows that you tend to notice remarks directed at your point of view and ignore the others.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I'm not having a single problem with the new format.How come everyone else is?...
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17477
Quoting Grothar:


SHHHHHH!


Wait, was that classified information? My bad!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting flsky:

Hi TS - I used to get frustrated, aggravated, baited, etc., etc., by the "2 or 3," but now I just hit the handy-dandy "red exclamation point" (that is, if the site is allowing me to do so) and rest easy. Man, I hope they get these technical issues figured out b4 the season starts. I really rely on this site for up-to-the-minute, accurate info - after all, I DO live in FL!


BAITING,,,is the word of good choice. THE 2 that we are all talking about are probably the same we are all thinking.....LOL
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
165. flsky
Quoting TampaSpin:



Yep if you don't have a DEMOCRATIC point of view you are then an outcast as most on here don't allow or don't like a Conservatives thinking.

I guess it depends on your definition of "democratic." At any rate, the important thing here to me is tropical weather - all else is just chaff and is ignored.
Member Since: October 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2045
Quoting TampaSpin:
Little BUTLER is kicking Wisconsin and Arizona is beating DUKE........WOW. How is your bracket? Most are BUSTED....LOL


SDS lost, I had them as champs. My bracket was already screwed LOL
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
163. flsky
Quoting PRweathercenter:
Good evening to all!! The latest Tropical Cyclone landfall probabilities are out now, just in case anyone is interested. Puerto Rico has a 51 percent chance of getting a direct hit this year by a tropical cyclone.
Link
it would be the 2nd option

Well, I know a few folks there - not good news if it pans out.
Member Since: October 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2045
Quoting RastaSteve:


AMEN!! While they do no wrong according to admin others get banned for harmeless crap. It's amazing the treatment some get on here. Good night TampaSpin! I've seen people put down to nothing on here and nothing happens to those people. One day this blog will be no more becuase admin can't get their act together or maybe admin is some of these knuckle heads that post on here. Oh well if i get banned so be it I will be back soon.


Amen to that brother. Something that's harmless gets a ban. The day this blog is nothing anymore is coming soon if they don't do something.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Little BUTLER is kicking Wisconsin and Arizona is beating DUKE........WOW. How is your bracket? Most are BUSTED....LOL
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
Quoting caneswatch:


I don't know why you think that I eat sweets LOL.

I was speaking about Admin. They think the rules of Dr. Masters' blog goes to every blog.


Just fooling with ya Canes. They have to fix this blog, or at least get it to a readable format.
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Quoting Grothar:


Yes, I know. Same here. Most of the regulars are gone. Seems like people cannot discuss anything without fighting about it and people telling other blogger what they should discuss. Everyone has to have the last word. Very sad.



Yep if you don't have a DEMOCRATIC point of view you are then an outcast as most on here don't allow or don't like a Conservatives thinking.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
Quoting TampaSpin:


Actually Groth, many are gone because of the way others are treated on here. There are 2 to 3 bloggers that lay on here every day that act like the own the thing! I can't tell you the many emails i have received telling of the treatment and why they either just observe or won't come back.


AMEN!! While they do no wrong according to admin others get banned for harmeless crap. It's amazing the treatment some get on here. Good night TampaSpin! I've seen people put down to nothing on here and nothing happens to those people. One day this blog will be no more becuase admin can't get their act together or maybe admin is some of these knuckle heads that post on here. Oh well if i get banned so be it I will be back soon.
Member Since: March 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 885
Quoting KoritheMan:
I never have, and never will. The service is fine as it is, not to mention there's a way around the 6 frame doppler radar loop that's limited to non-paying members; a subtle loophole I'm honestly surprised hasn't been corrected yet.


SHHHHHH!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
156. flsky
Quoting TampaSpin:


Actually Groth, many are gone because of the way others are treated on here. There are 2 to 3 bloggers that lay on here every day that act like the own the thing! I can't tell you the many emails i have received telling of the treatment and why they either just observe or won't come back.

Hi TS - I used to get frustrated, aggravated, baited, etc., etc., by the "2 or 3," but now I just hit the handy-dandy "red exclamation point" (that is, if the site is allowing me to do so) and rest easy. Man, I hope they get these technical issues figured out b4 the season starts. I really rely on this site for up-to-the-minute, accurate info - after all, I DO live in FL!
Member Since: October 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2045
Quoting TampaSpin:


Actually Groth, many are gone because of the way others are treated on here. There are 2 to 3 bloggers that lay on here every day that act like the own the thing! I can't tell you the many emails i have received telling of the treatment and why they either just observe or won't come back.


Yes, I know. Same here. Most of the regulars are gone. Seems like people cannot discuss anything without fighting about it and people telling other blogger what they should discuss. Everyone has to have the last word. Very sad.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


For whose own good; the bloggers or Admin? Be specific. Very vague sentence structure. Keep this up and I'll hide your twinkies and double fudge oreo cookies.


I don't know why you think that I eat sweets LOL.

I was speaking about Admin. They think the rules of Dr. Masters' blog goes to every blog.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Around Chicago we had misty rain yesterday that turned into snow. Some snow flurries today, but the sun came out this afternoon. I've been told it's Spring, the birds seem to think it's Spring, and some hardy plants are sending up shoots. But this snow stuff has to stop. It will stop, won't it?? Please???
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Quoting flsky:

Hi, Gro. I had to reload the page 4 times b4 I could do a "quote" to your post. Sheesh. I sure hope admin. is monitoring these posts. Sorry, but I don't remember where you're located. Was it New Port Richey? They're predicting a slight chance of rain here early next week - will have to wait and see. Keeping my fingers crossed....



Same problems here. Got so frustrated last night. I just stopped trying. I am in Ft. Lauderdale Beach, on one of the islands. Lived off and on in Florida (Miami or Ft. since 1948.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
"Dear Lord, because all things have been created through you. Your solutions are always the best. Forgive me for thinking that you are interested only in the spiritual and for seeking my own wisdom amd solutions to worldly problems." Amen
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Quoting hydrus:
You seem grouchy tonight 115...outta weed perhaps....


How has the weather been by you hydrus? It really is very dry here. Haven't seen you on much.
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Quoting Grothar:


I am a paid member and it really doesn't matter. Can't tell you the people that no longer come on here since they changed the blog. The photos in one's blog don't all show up. Images lock the screen. The printing is so faint one must have their head on the screen to see it. Not their best work. By the way, how you doing fl? Still dry down here. Haven't seen anythink like it except back in the early 1930's.


Actually Groth, many are gone because of the way others are treated on here. There are 2 to 3 bloggers that lay on here every day that act like the own the thing! I can't tell you the many emails i have received telling of the treatment and why they either just observe or won't come back.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
148. flsky
Quoting Grothar:


I am a paid member and it really doesn't matter. Can't tell you the people that no longer come on here since they changed the blog. The photos in one's blog don't all show up. Images lock the screen. The printing is so faint one must have their head on the screen to see it. Not their best work. By the way, how you doing fl? Still dry down here. Haven't seen anythink like it except back in the early 1930's.

Hi, Gro. I had to reload the page 4 times b4 I could do a "quote" to your post. Sheesh. I sure hope admin. is monitoring these posts. Sorry, but I don't remember where you're located. Was it New Port Richey? They're predicting a slight chance of rain here early next week - will have to wait and see. Keeping my fingers crossed....
Member Since: October 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2045
Big rains coming to FL per NOAA!

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions /threats/threats.php
Member Since: March 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 885
Quoting caneswatch:


It doesn't matter paid or free member. This place has gotten too hard to handle for their own good.


For whose own good; the bloggers or Admin? Be specific. Very vague sentence structure. Keep this up and I'll hide your twinkies and double fudge oreo cookies.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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